Who's to Judge?
by Jennifer Lagier

Students yawn, watch the clock.
I am boring, a hard-ass instructor
who expects them to work,
has assigned an in-class essay:
the event that changed your life.
I have no expectations.
Thirty-two out of the thirty-five
cannot compose a single paragraph
using complete sentences.
Punctuation is purely decorative.
They write like they talk.

Randie gushes about being saved
by Christ, her personal savior.
Amanda explains the thrill of painting
her bedroom all by herself.
Sophane describes two years
spent in a Pol Pot death camp
where he saw his family die,
contracted tuberculosis, was tortured,
almost starved before escaping,
somehow survived.

Suddenly my grading criteria
seems artificial, inane.
Effective communication
is more than subject/verb agreement,
periods versus semi-colons,
correct spelling and grammar.
Unlike my class, I’ve learned
a invaluable lesson.

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